Part 4: Twenty Questions: Gardening (or so I thought)

     “E…lim…i,” Adele started, frowning.
     “Kill, missy!” Gerard growled. “They’ve tried it before! And here we are!”
     “Hah! One threw rocks at me one time,” Percy offered. “Obviously missed.”
     I sighed. Adele was visibly frightened, but Betts…she was unusually quiet.
     “It’s a collective effort, this time,” I explained. “This means every two-legger in every house will be using these methods.”
     I took a deep breath. “Method 1: Traps. A grip trap will be used, which is easy to hide—you will never see it until it’s too late.”
     Gerard grunted but said nothing. Percy scowled.  Adele, already frightened, began to cry.
     “Stop that!” Betts hissed. “Wise up and listen!”

“Stop that,” Betts hissed. “Wise up and listen!”


     “Method Two…,” I began and then paused to study the solemn faces of my audience. Should I go on? Yes, they had to know.
     “Method Two…poison,” I said. “Two different kinds will be used…and I can’t pronounce their names. You all know what poison is, don’t you?”
     Gerard nodded first, then Percy. Betts was next, and, finally, Adele. I wondered how one so young would know about such a thing.
     “Adele, are you sure you understand?” I asked. “About poison?”
     Adele nodded again and sniffed. “Mother had always warned us to stay away from inside the place where two-leggers keep the things they travel around in. I guess there’s some watery stuff from them that falls to the ground. She also told us not to lick anything on the hard ground that leads to that place. Her sister did that, and I suppose she couldn’t help it because it tasted so sweet, and then she died.”
     I frowned. “I am sorry that happened.”
     “Why are you telling us this?” Percy asked, frowning. “Won’t you do these terrible things to us, too?”
     I shook my head.
     “Yeah, what makes you so different?” Gerard asked, his eyes narrowing.
     “I used to be a wildlife rehabilitator,” I said. “I mostly took care of rabbits.”
     “Rabbits?” Adele asked.
     “Quidges,” Betts told her.

“I used to be a wildlife rehabilitator,” I said. “I mostly took care of rabbits.”


     “A rehabilitator is one who cares for young or injured creatures,” I explained. “And then releases them back to their natural homes.”
     “Wow,” Adele whispered.
     “Okay, so you have a soft spot for quidges,” Percy said. “Who doesn’t? But they’ll eat stuff we don’t—all those things that two-leggers plant in the dirt. Those fancy things. What do you call them?”
     “Flowers?” I asked.
     “Yeah, what about them?” Gerard interjected. “No one is trying to eliminate quidges!”

“But they’ll eat stuff we don’t—all those things that two-leggers plant in the dirt. Those fancy things. What do you call them?”


     “You are wrong,” Betts said simply.
     “Bah!” Percy sputtered. “I don’t know how much more I can take of this nonsense! Prize or no!”
     I expected resistance to my announcement, but it was clear the course had to change.
     “Betts, you said you only get your food from the creek,” I said.
     “Yes, I do.”
     “Why is that?” I asked. “Why not invade the hen house or dig around for food from the rubbish bins?”
     Betts was silent for a moment.
     “I knew someone who was killed by a two-legger a while ago,” she finally said. “I think they used something called a…a gun?”
     I nodded my head.
     “Anyway, Fanny was my very best friend,” she sniffed.
     The others shifted uncomfortably, and Adele began to whimper again.
     “The fact is that two-leggers are going on the offensive,” I said. “And you have plenty to eat in your own surroundings. I know it’s a lot easier to pull a bag of dog food out of a garage or take a few eggs from the chicken house, but starting now it will be a lot more dangerous.”

“The fact is that two-leggers are going on the offensive.”


     “I haven’t searched for pinchers in a long time,” Percy complained. “I’m too old to change.”

“I haven’t searched for pinchers in a long time. I’m too old to change.”


     I smiled. “No, you are not. And I know someone who can offer some guidance.”
     Betts looked at me and smiled slightly. She glanced at Percy, and his look of annoyance softened a bit.
     “There is something else,” I said.
     “Bah, do you want us to buddy up or something?” Gerard grumbled.
     “Only if you want to,” I said. “What I really want is for all of you to spread the word. Don’t forget the quidges. Starting as soon as we are finished here.”


     Adele looked at Betts. “Would you be willing to teach me the best way to catch the pinchers and swimmers? My mother showed us, but I was the only one who failed. Every time.”
     “Sure, kid,” Betts said casually.
     They were grumbling to each other now, and I tried to gauge their responses. Betts had good reason to stay away, and she would be the perfect role model for Adele. But as to Gerard and Percy—the odds were against them since their temperament suggested they would launch a retaliation should any of their kin succumb to the two-leggers’ wanton approach to the problem–an effort that would end in disaster. Thankfully, I had an almost foolproof way to keep them here a bit longer, perhaps long enough to get them used to the idea of living a safer, more conventional way of life.

Next: Part 5: Twenty Questions: Gardening (or so I thought)

Gerard – Image by HNBS from Pixabay 
Adele – Image by edbo23 from Pixabay 
Percy – Image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay 
Betts – Image by AtakOnArt from Pixabay 

Feature Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay 
Baby rabbits image by James D Long from Pixabay 
Rabbit in garden image by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixa
bay 

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